Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.Green — without noting that the Ames's whole article is about lameness — snarks that spitting is "lame." Instapundit grimly labels it "The Descent of the Left."
But let's look at Ames's whole article — and not be distracted by the terrible practice of spitting on libertarians. (I will not be side-tracked into blogging about what the lefties would say if the spit were flying in the opposite direction.)
Ames was reacting to the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally, which to him was the manifestation of the younger generation's need to keep an ironic distance from politics — an effort to avoid lameness. Ames wants young people to rediscover liberalism, which was "once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit." (Ames himself is 45, by the way, too young to have been a real hippie, but older than the people he criticizes.)
Ames found the Rally to Restore Sanity "depressing and grotesque" — like "some kind of sick funeral party for Liberalism, in which Liberals are led, at last, by a clown." (Aw, come on, Ames. The liberals have been led by a clown before. Just not a very funny clown.) Ames is disgusted by the way the rally-goers take pride in how smart they are because they "don’t take themselves too seriously":
That’s why they’re following a clown like Stewart, whose entire political program comes down to this: not being stupid, the way the other guys are stupid–or when being stupid, only stupid in a self-consciously stupid way, which is to say, not stupid. That’s it, that’s all this is about: Not to protest wars or oligarchical theft or declining health care or crushing debt or a corrupt political system or imperial decay—nope, the only thing that motivates Liberals to gather in the their thousands is the chance to celebrate their own lack of stupidity! Woo-hoo!It's a liberal trope that I've been following over the past week, after Isthmus reporter Bill Lueders wrote a piece called "The Triumph of Stupidity," in which he triumphed over getting UW polisci professor to say the voters are "pretty damn stupid." It's that "What's the Matter with Kansas?" notion that liberals have — that people who don't vote for liberal candidates are too dumb to know where their own interests lie. Ames is looking at the other side of that phenomenon: Liberals themselves are caught up in their self-image of not being the stupid ones, and, Ames is saying, this obsession of theirs undercuts the old-time, serious liberal project of remaking the world in pursuit of big, broad ideals like equality.
Ames has a great insight into "why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama": "he made them look stupid." They took Obama seriously. They believed. And that set them up to look.... lame!
Ames writes many paragraphs trashing E. A. Hanks's "Dear The Left: A Breakup Letter." (She's Tom Hanks's daughter!) Hanks seems to want to separate herself from political movements and embrace something like libertarianism. Ames declaims:
If the ruling class has enormous amounts of money and power and collectivizes in a variety of billionaires’ unions and special interests unions, and your answer is, “I’ll go it alone, at least I won’t look stupid” then you’re just fucking stupid.So it is all about not looking stupid? Anyway, after much verbiage, which I'm skipping, including the part about Bob Dylan — marvel at my restraint! — he gets to his point, which is that liberals need to cast individualism aside and get collectivized, even though that's not distanced and ironic and unserious:
Collective action is the only possible way to change shit. Large numbers of collectivized nobodies rallying to demand what they want–a better cut of the pie...Pie! Michelle said we could have pie!
... and a better world to live in. It’s the only thing that power-elites fear and the only way to get them to negotiate.... You’ll have to stomach being around people who are lame, and who say lame things, and you’ll feel lame—so you’ll have to decide which is lamer: the fear of being lame, or forming an alliance with people lamer than you in order to struggle against people far meaner, far more greedy and destructive than the lame people you hate—people who have no qualms about being lame when they collectivize, so long as they destroy you and grab everything they want.In other words, don't mock the Tea Party. Get out there. Be like them. Be mockable. That's the first of 3 prescriptions Ames ends with. The third is the one Green quoted: Anathematize libertarians. (The metaphor is to spit.) And the reason for anathematizing libertarians is Ames's second prescription: liberalism needs a big, serious goal to collectivize about and that goal is the redistribution of wealth:
[P]eople need money. Then if they have money, they need Life. Then they might be interested in “ideals” set out in the contract that this country is founded on. Ever read the preamble to the Constitution? There’s nothing about private property there and self-interest. Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is ... a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.” And that other purpose at the end of the Constitution’s contractual obligations: promote the “General Welfare.” That means “welfare.” Not “everyone for himself” but “General Welfare.” That’s what it is to be American: to strive to form the most perfect union with each other, and to promote everyone’s general betterment. That’s it. The definition of an American patriot is anyone promoting the General Welfare of every single American, and anyone helping to form the most perfect Union—that’s “union”, repeat, “Union” you dumb fucks.Ames is still playing on his audience's fear of being the stupid ones — even as he spews some crazy shit he wants us to hear as brilliant. Don't be a dumb fuck, believe me when I tell you: This individualism is a trick the billionaires are playing on you. Come together, live as One.
Ames boldly palms this off as constitutional interpretation. The "more perfect union" in the Preamble isn't the reallocation of powers between the federal government and the state governments to deal with the problems that arose under the Articles of Confederation. No, Ames's big, serious lie — and you should worry that you're a dumb fuck if you don't believe it — is that the Constitution compels us to set aside our individual pursuit of happiness and dedicate ourselves to the collective.